Masasa Beach From the Perspective of a Corny Tito

The Ultimate Masasa Beach Guide for Non-Millennials

Preface: This post is what I would consider a semi-recall post. The first 700 words were written immediately after our trip, which was on March 18-19, 2017. The rest, I wrote 15 months after the fact, so forgive me if some of my specifics are outdated.

Disclaimer: This is, by all means, a personal account of my experience in Masasa Beach. I’m not here to sell you on anything, nor to please anyone (institutions included) not worth pleasing. This is also not a guide—although you will find some very cool ninja tips here—so use with your own discretion.

Ang daming sinabi. Article starts below.

When it comes to vacations, I am at a point in my life wherein I would seriously reconsider if one of these is missing: aircon, heated shower, decent internet connection, duvet-covered bed (okay, maybe not the last one).

So, yes, basically anything that starts with “cam” and ends with “ping” is a definite NO. Don’t get me wrong, I am not high maintenance, I’m just done with that cowboy shit. I realize, I didn’t really enjoy it much during my younger years, so why bother now? In other words, I came to my senses and became real (naks).

Kaya ko, pero ayaw ko.

And so, when asked why I chose not to go to a recent one-day hiking adventure with my wife and her cousins, I crassly said, “Ang sarap-sarap sa bahay, eh.

But because married life is all about compromises—and because all I could come up with was a Family Computer reissue for her last birthday gift—I knew a sacrifice was up and about.

Baby, wife, and Super Mario
Yes, but she actually enjoyed the Family Computer.

I then asked, “Anong gusto mo sa birthday mo?” To which she replied, “Ewan ko, pero gusto kong bumalik sa Masasa.”

Of course, I couldn’t say no. Not that I wanted to, mind you, and to be honest, the thought of having a mini adventure without parental responsibility actually excited me.

Me, her, Batangas. #justliketheolddays

(Okay, there were actually five of us. But heck, the more the merrier, right? Plus, I can afford to sit pretty all the more because I can delegate tasks to others. #waysofthetito)

Let’s start with a mini travel guide, shall we?

How to go to Masasa Beach (from Alabang)

  1. Ride a bus from South Station Alabang to Batangas Grand Terminal (less than Php 200)
  2. Take a jeep from Batangas Grand Terminal to Anilao Port (less than Php 50)
  3. Ride the boat going to Tingloy (less than Php 150 including environmental fee)
Bus from Alabang
My wife and I were separated on the bus ride. I ended up sitting by the door.
Batangas City Grand Terminal
This is the Batangas City Grand Terminal. Your bus ride ends here, your jeep ride starts here.

For the rest of you non-Alabangers, simply figure out a way to get to Anilao Port—the one with the palengke and the small Petron.

One hell of a port

Anilao Port is a small, very unorganized port. If you want to bring a car, this is where you’ll have to leave it. However, the chances of getting a good parking slot here is minimal at best, unless you want to arrive before the sun rises. So, yes, we’d rather commute. #justliketheolddaysagain

Now, here’s where it gets hellish. Once you reach the port, be prepared for battle. Because Masasa has been trending for quite some time now, Anilao Port—the only starting point to get there—gets really crowded. The waiting time? For us, 3 fucking hours. We arrived at around 11:00 AM; we literally first set foot on the boat at around 2:30 PM. No kidding. That 3 hours includes the time you will have to fall in line to reserve a seat (or seats if you’re the representative in your group) under the burning sun. Yes, zero shade sa pila. After that, some more waiting for your boat to arrive until you finally board.

Anilao Port chaos
Hell hath no fury like Anilao Port.
No sunblock, no problem
Not trying to be a douche here or anything, but it was really burning.

Major rant alert

Motherfucking maraming sumisingit sa pila dito. Be prepared to be brave. Try your best to say or shout something if someone cuts in, even if parinig lang. The people will back you up. Always be aware of who’s in front of you. There are many “fixers” there as the locals have found a way to profit by “lining up” for the travelers.

On your way to Tingloy

If you haven’t figured out by now, Masasa Beach is on a separate island. It’s called Tingloy and it’s between the Batangas mainland and Mindoro, albeit significantly closer to the mainland. The boat ride will take about 45 minutes, maybe 1 hour tops. The boats are your typical 60-to-80-capacity dual-katig wooden boats with super smoke-belching diesel truck engines.

Fact: These boats will either drop you off at Tingloy port or on Masasa Beach itself (if you’re lucky). You cannot choose the final destination even if you wanted to. It’s on a rotation system known only to them, so you’d have to deal with whichever boat you chance upon.

Unfortunately, we got the former so we disembarked on Tingloy port. Because of this, we had to do an additional tricycle ride, plus a 1-, maybe 1.5-kilometer trek to reach the actual beach.

Masasa rice fields
Trek starts here where the road ends. Beach is just after the coconut trees.

The Tito perspective

Electricity, millennials

Did you know that electricity in Masasa is in shifting mode? I’m not sure if this goes for the whole of Tingloy, but electricity is automatically cut off at 12:00 AM and goes back 12:00 PM. During our stay, it was cut off at around 11:30 PM. So, what happens after 12:00 AM? Pretty much the same. Masasa-goers are the type who don’t need electricity to have a good time. Inuman sa beach, night swimming, kung anu-anong ka-millenial-an, etc.

Lodging system

Masasa is not commercialized (as of 2017). As in not at all. There are no resorts, no bars, no restaurants. Lodging is done by way of finding locals willing to lend their houses, so rates vary invariably. Tents are allowed and we did see many happy campers, but I’m not sure where the designated areas are (if any), and how the whole bathroom situation is dealt with.

Tents at Masasa Beach
Tents all over. Camping here is the real deal.

By the way, yes, we were able to rent a small family’s entire house. It had a bathroom, a kitchen area, and an elevated sleeping/living area. It was alright because we had it to ourselves. Because in my opinion, privacy is the only buyable (is that a word?) luxury here. Where did the owners sleep, you ask? Oh, we kicked them out. But that’s how it really works.

Masasa Beach house
Our humble abode. Kitchen straight ahead, stairs to the right lead up to the room.

Virgin beach and how to survive

Like I said, Masasa is not commercialized so I guess you can brand it as fresh, virgin, untapped, Boracay noon, etc. Okay, I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s Boracay pre-exploitation, just maybe Puerto Galera White Beach at best. (Hey, that’s saying a lot because PG was really beautiful back then.) So, I guess it would be wise to sum it up as an outstanding addition to the list of accessible, no-plane-ride-needed beaches from Metro Manila.

End of Masasa
Rightmost side of the beach. On the other side of that rock is another, albeit rockier, beach.
Taken from the right side
Masasa Beach in its entirety. Taken from the rightmost side (facing the beach).

Food and drinks (eating, drinking) are somewhat of an inconvenience. Don’t think for a second that you can survive here so long as you have some spare cash in your pocket Manila-style. Meals are something that you have to prepare for. There are sari-sari stores, though, so if you’re fine with pansit everything, be my guest. And because this was the missus’ second time, we came prepared with frozen meats, canned goods, and even bigas.

Side story: I saw a barkada (all boys) lug a full-sized cooler filled with beers from the mainland to Tingloy. And mind you, this is not of  the Coleman type—think Coke coolers used in food markets/bazaars. As for us, I was tasked to carry a 5-liter mineral water . Tanggal-kamay sarap.

Recent update/addition (08/04/18): I was able to find data signal that’s good enough for some must-do work, but it was such a pain.

The beach and the mini lagoon

You can walk the entire length of the beach from end to end. On the far right (if you’re on the ocean and looking at the shore) is another beach that is rockier. On the far left, well, that’s where Mother Nature came to play. Here you’ll find intricate rock formations that gave rise to a breathtaking mini lagoon. A short trek is needed to reach the place, but I will go insofar as saying that it’s safe even for kids.


Unfortunately, we weren’t able to go snorkeling so I have nothing to say about the corals. However, this is Batangas-Mindoro so I’m guessing it’s world class. The water is helluva clear, though, and the gradient of the descent is very mild and swimming friendly.

Going back home, another battle

Let’s just say the most unforgettable forgettable moments of this trip all happened during the waiting-for-the-boat times. The port and whoever’s in charge of boat traffic (coast guard?) are simply not ready for the influx of travelers who crowd the docks on season, much like an H&M store opening. It’s scary because people get anxious and become unruly, and it’s always at the brink of getting all out of control—add to that that it all happens under the piercing heat of direct sunlight.

The Angelica
This is what we had to deal with going home. It was also the first time I saw a foreigner cut in line.

In closing

As much as I want Masasa Beach to stay virgin forever, I’d be fine if it were the last time I see it. As the title says, I’m (already a) corny tito and I’ve had my fair share of anything-goes, walang-kinabukasan adventures. Masasa is good for that; it’s also good for off-the-grid escapes or if you want to take a break from the internet and social media, and simply enjoy nature for a while.

The quintessential “until we meet again” shot.

As for its future, I’d honestly be surprised if it doesn’t get commercialized anytime soon. Let’s just hope the developers or would-be small business owners do it in a tasteful manner.

Masasa Beach is excellent for the young ones, but not the young once. I would not even recommend it for a family vacation (with kids, elders), but that’s just me. Not in its current virgin state, at least.

Blogging Bauan: Seascape Resort Batangas is nowhere near the sea

What comes to mind when you hear the words, “Tara, Batangas!”? A beach trip, of course; perhaps some island hopping with snorkeling, or scuba diving (balisong shopping?). My point is: anything that involves the sea. And that’s exactly what we were expecting when we booked a Batangas huling hirit before the kids go back to school.

So, what is Seascape Resort Batangas exactly? It’s a resort with a seascape (woke moment alert). It sits atop some mountain, overlooking a part of the southern Batangas shoreline that I have now come to know (via Google) as Batangas Bay.

Let’s start with a very gloomy photo. This is what I would consider the “main area” of the resort.


This post’s title might lead you to think that I’m on to another major bitching, but I actually liked the place. It’s unfortunate that it’s nowhere within 10 minutes (at least) of a beach-able beach, but I should have known better. So, if you want to treat this post as a review of sorts, be my guest. And, because I’m still only on my way to travel blogger superstardom, I get nothing from writing these things—so expect nothing but pure honesty.

How to get there

How to go to Seascape Resort Batangas? (Uy, keyword stuffing.)

Simple, Waze the fuck it up. (Uy, inulit lang yung hirit sa last post.) But seriously, I’m not into making travel guides because I do not want to be blamed for your being lost in the middle of nowhere. But, here’s what I know anyway.

My reference points are (and always will be): the Batangas pier that we all use to go to Puerto Galera, and Mabini, Batangas—home to the Anilao diving spots.

Proceed as if you were to go to the aforementioned pier—Star Tollway until the end, then on the roundabout take the second exit (Waze, ikaw ba yan?). Now you’re already on the road that leads to the port. On this exact same road, you’ll hit a very obvious flyover. That aformentioned (ibang word naman, huy!) flyover is exactly where you DO NOT want to be. Make sure to stay on the right; on the intersection below the flyover, go right.

You are now on the road that leads to Mabini—the one with the scuba diver statue—and the smaller port that you’d use if you were to go to Masasa. However, you are NOT to reach those places. Perhaps halfway through that Mabini highway road, you’ll see a sign that says Seascape Resort. You’ll know you’re on the right path if this road you turned right on is one-lane narrow and steep.


The place is huge. In fact, if you try to walk from the first main gate slash parking area to the second gate, you’ll find yourself catching your breath—thanks in part to the hill-like layout of the resort. Yes, there are endless stairs and ramps, because like I said, “it sits atop some mountain.”

Swimming pool, tree house, and Mickey Mouse obsession

The main swimming pool goes down to 7 feet on the slide landing area. I don’t think any of us tried that slide as it looks like it’s going to sandpaper the shit out of our asses. There’s also a small hut in the middle of the main pool that becomes the lone source of shade during the day.

The children’s pool—still connected to the main pool—is shaped as such: big circle (main kiddie pool) and two smaller circles (ears; Jacuzzi-like). Yes, Mickey Mouse. To add to the Mickey Mouse obsession, a giant Mickey is impressed on the floor of the main pool, while also being somewhat shaped like a Mickey. I’m not sure if there are other  Mickey homages within the resort, but these really stick out like an out-of-nowhere sore thumb.

The tree house, on the other hand, is really more of like a tree gazebo. It’s the designated videoke area and can accommodate 20 adults easily. It also serves as the roof to a giant bird cage, which is quite a bummer, to be honest, because you know—captivity #woke #ibonmangmaylayanglumipad #dontforgetthehashtag.

This is the only photo we have that shows the other side of the resort. Tree gazebo/bird cage to the right, and pool area if you rotated to the left.

Other amenities

There’s a basketball hoop with just about enough playing space for a three-on-three on the second parking area—which we didn’t get to use, a billiard table near the first parking area and the huts—which I didn’t get to use, and a restaurant—which we didn’t get to eat at.


The place is nice. I’m not head-over-heels crazy over it, but I like the overall vibe I got from the experience. The rooms are a little bit nicer than nice—probably around 90% (if hotel rooms were a hundred). I’m pretty sure we got the two biggest rooms available—to accommodate an almost-twenty group—so ours were filled with bunk beds. Still, it didn’t feel like military barracks.

Another winner—the view; especially from our room. It was overlooking the pool, which was also overlooking the ocean from afar. Sure, this side of the sea was all cargo ships and ports, but it still makes for a scenic view. Ika nga ng bayaw ko, “Puro mga bankers.” (oil bunker).

Same area taken from the balcony of our room. Topmost on the left is the ocean. Brown roof on the right is the tree gazebo.

What else? Because we arrived the latest, we weren’t able to experience the wrath of the masungit front desk lady. But according to my wife’s cousins’ accounts, it was enough to make dinuguan (magpakulo ng dugo). There’s also the usual lack of water pressure and consistent hot water, but I’ll let that pass this time. Signal (4G) was unexpectedly strong.


It took almost exactly 100 kilometers from The Alabang to the resort itself, so at an aggressive 8-10 kilometers/liter, that’s Php 1,200-1,400 balikan in today’s rates. As for toll: 91 Filinvest to Calamba + 25 Sto. Tomas + 95 Star Tollway dulo = Php 211 one way.

For the rooms, here are the exact rates: Php 5,425 for the good-for-6 room and Php 7,235 for the good-for-12 room (yes, a room for 12). All were booked via (affiliate link).

The room for 12. Semi loft style. Sorry, no photo of the 2nd floor.
Only decent photo of our room (half of it). This is the cheaper one.

I guess it would be hard to compare the expenses we amassed on this trip if you’re a small group, as it almost seems like we were a small company on an outing. And it doesn’t help that we super Pinoy-styled the food budget—adobo, baon everything, ihaw, etc. All in all, I would put the to-the-centavo equally divided individual gastos at a very affordable ?1,200 per person.

Super Pinoy-style outing food setup.

Closing Remarks

Seascape Resort Batangas is located in the middle of nowhere, in a province known for so many travel spots. It’s a bit odd, to be honest, and if you’re from the city, going there on its own merits might be wasteful (think of it as a Pansol outing that is double the travel time).

I believe it’s best for Batangueños looking for a quick overnight getaway with swimming and a scenic view. Or, a place to hold a company outing or party, or the like.

Special mention to Lando & Lorie’s Eatery, Lipa City—a must-try food stop if you ever get lost in Lipa.

And now we’re four.

Blogging Bataan: Mount Samat National Shrine

Part two of Blogging Bataan

Mount Samat made it to a top list of Philippine bundoks you can conquer in a day. It deserves to be, to be honest, because there’s something really powerful about that mountain.

Oh, the power.

Okay, we didn’t really climb Mount Samat per se—mountaineer-style—but still. Besides, there’s a perfectly good road leading up to the summit, so why would we I? So, if you’re planning to do a climb, look elsewhere. Otherwise, if you want the lazy, faster, with-aircon way, then read on.

Why bother battling with the elements when you can have aircon, sounds, even sleep!

By the way, when we planned our Bataan day trip, we only had Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in mind. Bataan is relatively near and Las Casas will only really take 4 hours of your time max, so we ended up with time to spare. As per the suggestion of the Las Casas staff and some googling, Mount Samat seemed like a legit side trip.

But wait, here’s a super blogger tip: if you want to do a Bataan day trip, do these three: Mount Samat National Shrine, Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, and Pawikan Conservation Center. In that particular order, or in reverse. We were not able to do the three (labo) simply because we went straight to Las Casas, but at least we learned something. If you want to do Pawikan first, go via SCTEx. The other two will be on the way going home—but this time via the old San Fernando exit. If you want to do Mount Samat first, exit San Fernando and go home via SCTEx after Pawikan. However, might I suggest doing Mount Samat first because you wouldn’t want to arrive too late there and miss the elevator going up the cross (like we did). Super ninja blogging tip, indeed.

Wait a minute, I’m blogging about Mount Samat even though I didn’t really “climb” it, plus I was not able go up the cross? Sinong niloko nitong blogger na’to? That’s the thing. I was just really moved by the place.

So moved.
So moved.

Dramabels aside, Mount Samat, the entrance to, is about 20 kilometers from Las Casas (you won’t miss the sign that leads to it from the national road). From the foot of that entry, there’s an exhilarating drive of about 20 minutes until you reach the shrine area. That 20-minute drive will test your inner Schumacher (old school pati mga references). It’s uphill, downhill, zigzagy, narrow, and has very steep, curved short bursts—think downshifting to first gear ala Baguio. (Also, I could swear I saw some downhill skaters there.)

Part of said drive. Masyadong intense kaya blurred.

The road only leads up to the shrine area so you won’t miss it. Once you reach the gate, prepare to pay a whopping PHP 20 entrance. Go as far as you can because by this time you’re already looking for parking; and, the farther you go, the less uphill walking you’ll have to do.

Little did we know; our parking’s way below.

You all know what this shrine is about, right? Yeah, the whole Bataan Death March thing. This is where the soldiers hid until they could no longer do so—because of hunger, I’m guessing—while the Japanese had all the exits covered. After that happened the Death March.

Which you’ll all be strongly reminded of, mind you.
The have war artifacts and stuff.
The have war artifacts and stuff.

So yes, there’s a reason why this mountain gets to you. It may be the rich, haunted history, or the stunning view of Bataan, or the megastructure sitting on top of it; either way, it’s all very sulit. Sulit not only because you’ll spend a maximum of only PHP 50 there, but because—as simple as it is—it does not disappoint.

Breathtaking view from Mount Samat National Shrine
Gotta love that view.
Very Taal Vista-like
The view – pan left. The dagat.

So once again, word of advice, try to arrive early because the elevator going up the observation deck (in the cross) closes early. (The shrine is open from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, so the last people to go up should be done by 5.)

Hanep sa alignment. (Yin!?)

What else? Oh, read this super-blogger guide if you want all bases covered.

Overall: Highly recommended (wow, a first!)

By the way, between Mount Samat and Las Casas you’ll pass by a sort of Philippine-Japan friendship tower on an intersection that leads up to Bagac town proper. Take some photos there if you’re the type (and if you’ve totally forgiven the Japanese for their terrors). (Kidding.) Seriously, though, it’s nothing.

Yes, we the type. What this pic doesn’t show? Yung pawis namin. Effort!

Click here for the Bataan photo blog (to follow).

Eagle Point Resort, Anilao, Batangas — Click here to find out what their favorite word is

Eagle Point Beach and Dive Resort in Bagalangit, Anilao, Mabini, Batangas

Warning: this post is bitchy.

Eagle Point. What an adventure; and by adventure, I mean the unexpected.

Being that our summer schedule is, on average, booked 365 days in advance (thanks to my wife), we had to find a quick getaway for the holy week with less than a week to go, just so we don’t get bored out of our minds repenting (our house). The criteria: ocean, hotel, within 200 kilometers, cheap.

We found two resorts: one in Subic, one in Batangas. Needless to say, choosing the latter was something we never deemed so regrettable, especially within only five minutes of arriving at the place.

Where is Eagle Point?

The resort is very easy to get to (Anilao in general, actually). With SLEX-Sucat as kilometer 0, it’s only about 120 kilometers away—70% of which will be spent driving pedal-to-the-metal at the now-connected SLEX and Star Tollway. All traffic aside, that’s an hour and forty-five minutes tops.

From the end of Star Tollway:

  1. Take the 2nd roundabout and simply go about as if you were going to the Batangas Pier
  2. Do not go up the overpass; stay to the right and make a right going to Mabini
  3. Waste 15-20 minutes on this 5-kilometer stretch of pure traffic hell
  4. Make a right on Jolibee
  5. Follow the road and find the ocean to your left
  6. Keep going until you reach a Y intersection
  7. On the intersection, choose the road with the diver’s statue (right)
  8. Go straight until you reach the end of the road
  9. You are now at the Anilao Pier and you have no business there
  10. Go back 50 meters and take the first right
  11. Climb the mountain for about 15 kilometers
  12. Be wary of the signs, Eagle Point should be on your right

Now, here’s where it gets odd

Once you finally make that right going towards the resort, you’ll be greeted by a sign that says: “Your adventure starts here.” Take a minute to digest every word of that sentence for nothing can be further from the literal truth.

Remember all that mountain climbing you did on step 11 above? You will now reverse that until you reach sea level once again, but this time in a hellishly steep descent that spans maybe 2 kilometers. So, that’s 15 kilometers going up compressed to 2 kilometers going down. All this on a one-lane road that can give even the most seasoned off-roader a run for his money. Incoming traffic? Forget about it. One tire slip and you’re dead.

Okay, if you make it alive (hopefully), you’ll finally reach the parking area. Take note: parking area. So, where’s the resort? As it turns out, the journey is just not over yet. You’re still going to have to ride their shuttle and go on an even steeper descent that only local drivers familiar with the terrain can handle. I guess they really need to do this to prevent accidents and to avoid being sued. By the way, by shuttle I mean pampasaherong jeep. This is where you’ll be literally holding on to dear life while preventing your stuff from falling off. Fun. Adventure indeed.

My sister holding on to dear life.
My sister holding on to dear life.

Going back to the parking area. There you’ll be greeted by a big sign reminding you of the resort’s policies. Corkage fees and the like. At this point, we’re like, “Naku, strict kaya?” Now, here’s where it becomes funny. You have to know that we traveled with my mom (and sister). My mom is a character—a classic tita/lola if you may. The baon na adobo is already a given among Pinoys. Bump that up 5 notches higher so you can imagine our baon game. Among our stuff—placed in open-top S&R shopping bags—are (with no exaggeration): a rice cooker (filled to the brim with cooked rice), cooked adobo (of course), cooked tocino, cooked talong, a set of plates and utensils, uncooked hotdogs, a styrofoam cooler, and a 5-gallon mineral water jug. Yes, the 5-gallon one, the round one that you put upside down on a dispenser, and not even the one with a built-in faucet. So, you can just imagine our reactions when they asked, “Ma’am, may baon po bang pagkain?”

Said corkage fee sign at parking area.
Said corkage fee sign at the parking area.

Anyway—and here’s probably the only thing good that I’ll say about them—they let the corkage rule slip.

Welcome drinks are, well, welcoming. Check-in area.
Welcome drinks are, well, welcoming. Check-in area.

The actual review

Wait, what’s their favorite word? Well, you’re gonna have to read up until the end of this post. But first, I’ll give my thoughts on the resort itself.

Front-right facade. Cottages go up until the end.
Front-right facade. Cottages go up until the end.

The first thing that both me and my wife thought of when we set foot on the resort was that it reminded us a lot about Pearl Farm. Yes, Pearl Farm in Davao. Yes, we’ve been there. Yes, yung 14.5k/night (yabang mo, gago). Now, that’s saying a whole, whole lot. Don’t get me wrong, it’s no Pearl Farm (labo), but the layout is almost entirely the same—by the mountain, cottages facing the open sea, long walk to the cottage, swimming pools at both ends.

Front-left. Hotel-like rooms.
Front-left. Non-cottage, hotel-style rooms.

Now, make Pearl Farm much older (weathered) and bump the baduy factor up by 10 and you get Eagle Point.

You won't see such things in Pearl Farm. Sayang sana blue.
You won’t see such things in Pearl Farm. Sayang, sana blue.

Here’s another thing you need to know about the resort: there’s no beach. Although that’s typical of Anilao resorts, I still feel it’s worth stressing. What you get when you reach the land-sea divide are rocks of all sizes, and depths that are snorkeling-ready in just a couple of meters.

Like I said, rocks of all sizes.
Like I said, rocks of all sizes.

There are 3 swimming pools within the resort. A multi-level kiddie/adult pool with a slide, and another adult pool at the far end of the resort. There is also a saltwater diving pool of some sort, with actual baby sharks in it. True story. You can swim in it, but I think its main purpose is for newbie divers to practice in on before going open sea. What we didn’t like about the pools? They’re green. Having lived in houses with pools for most of my life, green water only means one thing: lumot. A clean, untreated pool will start blue, they slowly turn green after all the swimming action.

Just make it blue. It will make such a difference.
Just make it blue. It will make such a difference.
Baby shark pool.
Baby shark pool.
I wasn't lying about the baby sharks.
I wasn’t lying about the baby sharks.

The rooms are okay. I can only speak for the double that we got. It’s a separated, 2-unit cottage with a balcony each. This means you’ll be making friends with your neighbor should you go to the balconies simultaneously. It’s quite spacious and we were able to fit 2 extra single beds with room to spare. There’s a mini ref, a safe, standard 32-inch (or bigger, not sure) TV, the works. Bathroom is okay in size, but water pressure is weak. Aircon is small for the size of the room.

Sample detached cottage.
Sample detached cottage.
I didn't go full blogger mode so this is the only photo I have showing the room.
I didn’t go full blogger mode so this is the only photo I have showing the room.

What else? There’s a restaurant with a nice view (called Eagle’s Nest, I believe) that we only got to try during breakfast—because of our baon. The buffet breakfast is okay for the price (the selection).

Eagle's Nest Restaurant with gay foreigner man.
Eagle’s Nest Restaurant with gay foreigner man.

Staff are courteous and will greet you every chance they get. That’s something.

By the way, being that it’s called Eagle Point, there are actual eagles in captivity (cages) inside.

Now, about their favorite word

Here you go: EXTRA

Yes, their favorite word is extra. As in, “Ma’am may extra charge po.” “Ma’am, extra na po yun.”

I kid you not.

From the moment we set foot there, I swear to Judas. Okay, so there’s the corkage (which they let go, and we greatly appreciate it), then there’s the additional charge for extra persons which is PHP 1,000 per head per night (with breakfast, at least), so you better book a room that is one-is-to-one to your group.

When we finally got to the room, we were exhausted from the heat so naturally, we needed cold drinks. We didn’t have ice—not that we forgot about it, mind you (don’t underestimate my mom)—so we had to order from the front desk. Guess what? May extra. PHP 20 + 10% tax!

Sa sobrang asar. We all took a picture of it.
Sa sobrang asar. We all took a picture of it.

WiFi? No problem. PHP 168 lang per night, PER USER.

Snorkeling gear? Meron. PHP 300 lang. Additional PHP 200 for the aqua shoes. (Sino ba namang hindi mag a-aqua shoes doon eh bungad palang ‘sang damakmak na ang sea urchins.)

During checkout, my sister wanted to charge the butal via card just so she won’t have any change (barya). Guess what? Because she wanted to charge an amount that is below their minimum charge amount, may EXTRA.

In fairness

Mura ang per night sa Eagle Point. (By the way, there’s a day trip option of PHP 500 per head.) We paid around 3.5k/night for a double room (not really sure if it’s a “double” cause the bed sure looks like a king). Nasira lang naman kasi 4 adults kami so we ended up paying +2,000.

Besides, nahiya naman ako kasi may nag-comment sa post ko sa Microtelkung maka reklamo daw ako, 3.5k/per night lang naman pala binayaran.

Also, Eagle Point Resort is a dive resort. After all, Anilao is the diving capital of the…I don’t know. They have their own island if you want white-sand beach, but you have to pay extra.

Finally, here’s another reason why we disliked this resort so much. Last year we were also in Anilao. We went to a resort called Sea’s Spring. It’s a little bit farther but it’s basically in the same vicinity as Eagle Point. Same price, bigger, roomier place; bigger, better pools. It has a really, really hot hot spring; there’s no corkage, no stupid extra charges. All in all, so much better. Had we not gone there, we’d probably be quite okay with Eagle Point.

Overall: Neutral

Thanks for reading! Until the next time!
Thanks for reading! Until the next time!

P.S. Bitin ka pa? Check mo yung photo blog ko kung saan mas maraming litrato at kwento!

Blogging Bataan: Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar

Part one of a two-part Bataan series

That week between Christmas and New Year’s is a great time to travel—little to no traffic, most are already on VLs anyway, great weather, and the overall atmosphere is just light and merry. However, and unfortunately for us, nothing major (major, major?) was penciled up so we had to settle for a day trip. Amidst the post-Christmas rush and mandatory family get-togethers, we found a date: December 27, 2015. The place: Bataan.

Why Bataan? Because Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar. Maybe it got too much media mileage. Heck, even I—who on a good week will spend an absolute maximum of 2 hours on the ol’ tube—chanced upon a feature. A show with Drew Arellano, if I remember correctly. That and the recommendation of some titas from the missus’ side of the family, and it was a go.

Getting there

Simple: Waze the fuck it up. But okay, because people look up to me as a travel blogger (hihi), follow this: exit San Fernando, get past the Pampanga towns, then follow the signs. Seriously, it’s as easy as pie. What you need to know, though, is that the travel is pleasant and the roads are nice. Trust me. Bring your lowered car for crying out loud (wait, “stanced” na pala ngayon). All in all, the trip shouldn’t take you more than 4 hours.

Wait, commute ka lang? Ay, poor.

The place

Let me tell you what this place is all about. It’s old houses from different parts of the country taken down, transported and rebuilt piece by piece in this rich businessman’s spare lupa. Imagine the lengths these people had to go through. Why they did it? Who knows, but it sure makes for a good and one-of-a-kind attraction.

I chose this photo because it shows multiple houses. Unfortunately, panira yung catering.
Panira yung catering, but this is my only photo that shows multiple houses.

There are 10 or so houses there, most without any significant historical importance except that they’re really old. The houses have been turned into makeshift museums (featuring more old stuff) and Bahay sa Balete-like hotels. Seriously, you can rent anything there from a room to a whole multiple-room mansion (enough for a small company outing). Prices range from medyo mahal to outrageously expensive. We heard rates going up to PHP 300,000 per night for the biggest ones. Truth.

I think this one goes for 150,000/night.
I think this one goes for 150,000/night.


When you get to the place, park your car at the designated parking area which is just before the main entrance. There you will also find a small, unpretty registration booth where you pay the entrance fee. It’s around 600 for a day pass and around 1,200 (I think) for a day pass with buffet (tanginang blogger ito hindi manlang iresearch ang tamang fees). I suggest you get the one without the buffet; all the foods we saw inside were overpriced so I fear for the buffet being not sulit.

Entrance. Security is quite lax; I wonder if we could've over the bakod-ed.
Entrance. Security is quite lax; I wonder if we could’ve over-the-bakod-ed this up.

By the way, all of this is under the assumption that you’re not going to sleep there.

Ang laki. Lakad lang? Yari.
Ang laki. Lakad lang? Yari.

Okay, once inside, the only logical thing left to do is join a guided tour. Guided tours are scheduled every couple of hours or so so there’s no rush, and there’s no extra charge. It is, however, entirely by foot (but you can ride the free service jeep going back to the starting point once done). The tour is nothing but a house-to-house. The guides speak of mildy- to semi-interesting facts about each house—where it was originally from, the family that owned it, the condition they found it in, yada yada—but they will not skimp on letting you know of its nightly rate, the amenities and/or special features (such as a full-time butler), and if it’s available or not.

If you're up for the haunted vibe, by all means.
If you’re up for the haunted house vibe, by all means.

Word of advice: wear easy-to-remove footwear. Shoes are not allowed inside any of the houses. There are 14 houses.


Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar is one of those places wherein you can never take a bad picture. It’s kind of like Ilocos (or an old church). The houses are aliw to some extent, but most lack in historical significance to make you go “ooh”.

Bring your best photo-snapping gear.
Bring your best photo-snapping gear.

They have a small pool for the guests and the property is literally by the beach. The beach is okay, usable, and very long (both length and width), but is definitely not white. To my eyes they’re gray-brown.

Said swimming pool.
Said swimming pool.
That stretch of beach is mighty long.
That stretch of beach is mighty long.

Like I said, the snacks and drinks there are overpriced. Think Valkyrie prices. We did not get to try the buffet, but I’m quite happy (and relieved) with that decision.

They also have a gaming area. Me wanted to play so bad to relieve the pagod.
They also have a gaming area. Me wanted to play so bad to relieve the pagod.

A small tram that’s designed to go around the property is currently under development so that should be something to look forward to.

A huge plus if they can make it into an in-tram tour in the future.
A huge plus if they can make it into an in-tram tour in the future.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. We didn’t get to finish the guided tour. We also didn’t get to go inside all of the houses. The sun was super pasikat that day and for some reason, we all could not up our disposition to match the energy needed for all the walking, the removing of shoes, the wearing of shoes, the taking of pictures, etc. (well, except for my wife, maybe). Every time we’d encounter a big shaded tambayan, we’d stop for 10-20 minutes. Look, we’re not an old group; the aggregate current age of our group would probably fall in the mid-twenties. But it was so painfully gruesome. It’s like having all this magnificent architecture surrounding you but not having the energy to enjoy all of it. Weird.

Lilim. Pagod. Tambay.
Lilim. Pagod. Tambay.

It’s a good place. It’s a testament to one man’s love for old Filipino-Spanish architecture (as per research, a certain Gerry Acuzar). Being beside the ocean is a plus. The location is excellent; I love the fact that you have to reserve a day/road trip for it. Transforming it into a business is a necessity (for maintenance costs) but it takes away from the authenticity of the experience in a kind of “sellout” way, even though it is quite understandable.

Vantage point from one of the houses near the edge of the property looking towards the front.
Vantage point from one of the houses near the edge of the property looking towards the front.

Overall: Recommended.

Phone camera. Seriously.
Phone camera. Seriously.

P.S. By the way, you will not need an entire day for this. We were still able to visit another attraction—Mount Samat National Shrine—so watch out for that on the next post.

P.P.S. Shared Bataan gallery will be created when I finish the Mount Samat post.


The feeling travel blogger blog post of 2015 continued

Part two of my 2015 travel compilation and super return of the comeback

Read the first part here.

Lubao International Balloon Festival 2015


Okay, what to say about this event-slash-day trip? Short and tiring, perhaps. I remember the need to be at the venue by 6:00 AM just so we can see the balloons pre-flight. I remember being promised a ride on one of the balloons only to realize later that even if it had happened—which is a long, long, long shot—it probably would’ve been the worst idea ever. Why? Because we’d end up in the middle of nowhere once the balloon runs out of steam (hot air?). Add to that its inherent lack of safety and/or life-saving plan B options in case something goes wrong.

6:24 AM. Imagine that. We probably left around 4:30 AM.
6:24 AM. Imagine that. We probably left around 4:30 AM.

I know now. This festival makes for great, colorful photos; you’d best unleash the photographer in you. It’s a good side trip; the events happen so fast that you’d be left with nothing else to do come 9:00 AM. The sun will burn you; bring loads of sunscreen and/or umbrellas. Bring a kite; the kite-flying conditions are perfect. Other than those, it’s a good 2-hour-tops drive from the metro (Lubao, Pampanga), and about an hour-and-a-half away from Subic.

The Vader and Yoda combo has got to be the crowd favorite.
The Vader and Yoda combo has got to be the crowd favorite.

I have decided to create a standalone gallery for this event because the photo colors are just so nice.

Privato is too hipster for its own good


Small lobby but super clean and chic (yes, chic).

There are two times in a year we’re sure to hotel it up: NYE and Holy Week. The latter is normally reserved for cheaper, boutique-style hotels that are enough to bring us comfort during itaga-mo-sa-batong-mangyayaring Maynilad holy week service interruptions.

Small lobby but super clean and chic (yes, chic).

Privato is a newish artsy-fartsy hotel along Shaw—a little before and opposite Capitol Commons/Ynares. It’s got a nice, modernistic, minimalist feel to it (I’m obviously not equipped to describe architectural things). Bottom line is it’s clean and stylish. The rooms are okay; the gym is small; the rooftop pool is small and cold. There’s also a restaurant with a nice overlooking view of the Kapitolyo area. Bonus when staying here: Kapitolyo hipster eats. (Look, I don’t really know what hipster means when describing people, let alone places, so whatever.)

View from said restaurant.
View from said restaurant.

Ark Avilon Zoo is barely a zoo


Let’s consider this a side note because this is just field trip for our baby’s summer class. I guess what I really want to say is, “Hey, there’s a small zoo in the Tiendesitas area that you probably do not know of. Check it out.” Bring your kids there. You’d be done in 2, 3 hours so there’s plenty of time to hit the Ortigas malls.

It is, of course, shaped like an ark.

Forget Ilocos, there’s Pililla Wind Farm


Ah, me likey. Thanks to my tito’s odd place of choice for spending his semi-retirement—Sitio Bugarin, Pililla, Rizal—we got to see this hidden, relatively unexplored gem. My tito has an up-the-bundok, farm-like place that’s literally a stone’s throw away from the first few windmills.

Very much underdeveloped (April 2015) but getting there.
Very much underdeveloped (April 2015) but getting there.

The place is still being developed and the windmills are not yet fully operational. We were able to get up close to some of the windmills, though, but there were areas we weren’t allowed to go to because of construction safety issues. By the way, to add to the whole haciendero experience, we commissioned local workhorses for the trek.

Even baby got her own horse; it's named Bluetooth (true story).
Even baby got her own horse; it’s named Bluetooth (true story).

I feel this is going to be somewhat of a road trip/day trip tourist spot in the near future. They’re just gonna have to develop the place with the public in mind, and maybe put up some restaurants. By the way, wind generators weren’t put up here for nothing. There’s an endless supply of nakakalunod na hangin everywhere. My uncle says it’s like that the whole year round, save for a couple of days during summer. Oh, and depending on your vantage point, you also get a super nice view of Laguna lake.

Check out the size of that mofo.
Check out the size of that mofo.

What’s not to like? The trip. You can reach the place two ways: via Laguna and via Antipolo. We went the Antipolo route because it’s significantly nearer. Unfortunately, you’re gonna have to traverse 2-3 hours of traffic, small, busy roads, palengkes, etc. so the travel is not that pleasant (for the driver).

View from my tito's balcony overlooking Laguna Lake (wish I took a photo outside the chicken wire, though).
View from my tito’s balcony overlooking Laguna Lake (wish I took a photo outside the chicken wire, though).

Side note 2: The Mind Museum


Hey look, check out The Mind Museum at BGC. It’s a must-visit if you have inquiring minds.

They have cool stuff like such.
They have cool stuff like such.

Nothing more to add. The place is cool and sulit.

Sea’s Spring Hotel Resort, Anilao, Batangas


Sea’s Spring. Sea’s Spring. What an odd, hard-to-pronounce name. Well, it’s Korean so there’s that. I just realized that I wasn’t really in blogger mode during this trip, so I don’t have review-like photos of the resort.

One of the islands (?) where we went snorkeling. I forget what it's called.
One of the islands (?) where we went snorkeling. I forget what it’s called.
Water's really clear, though.
Water’s really clear, though.

So, what is the main selling point of this resort? The hot springs, I guess. Yep, they have 3 (maybe 2) small pools of varying burn-your-skin hotness. That’s in addition to the two big ones with water slides. The resort is huge; it’s quite nice, to be honest, but the beach area ain’t no beach. Anilao is of course a diver’s haven so it’s not really know for its beaches. We did some island hopping and were able to do some snorkeling, but like I always say, once you’ve snorkeled (is that even a word?) in Mindoro, you’d be hard to impress.

Another gitna-ng-dagat snorkeling activity.
Another gitna-ng-dagat snorkeling activity.
One of the hot spring pools. Sorry, this is the only photo I have of the resort. (Uy, may seksi!)

Terrazas de Punta Fuego Gilid


Keyword: gilid. We did a beach/seaside-themed Halloween this year. It was my eldest sister’s birthday celebration (and treat) and it was meant to be Verzo clan reunion of sorts. Okay, why gilid? Because the rest house we stayed in was literally out of the boundaries of Punta Fuego. However, because it’s so gilid, there’s no other way of getting there except via their gate/property. You can clearly see the chicken wire bakod that divides the two.

Maganda naman, diba?
Maganda naman, diba?
Harap sa kaliwa.
Harap sa kaliwa.

Okay, so Terrazas Gilid is in Nasugbu. I have to say, I didn’t expect the beach there to be that nice—I’m really confused with all the Batangas beach areas and how it varies from super ugly to super nice. The rest house is nice too. It has 3 rooms and is made for a big family/group. I’m not sure how we got it, nor if it’s open to the public, but it sure looks quite exclusive.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 - making SLRs obsolete since 2015.
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 – Making SLRs obsolete since 2015.
That's the dulo of Terrazas. The rest house is to the right.
That’s the dulo of Terrazas. The rest house is to the right (not in pic).
That's the house, yo.
That’s the house, yo.

Date sa Hong Kong


Finally, an out-of-the-country trip.

I have one life goal that goes as such: visit Hong Kong at least once a year. Hong Kong is just such an addicting place. It’s clean, orderly, small, cold (oh right, I don’t like HK during the hot months), foreign but not too foreign, near, etc. So there’s all that, but this trip was made even more special because ’twas a date of sorts for me any my wife—naks! Sundan na ‘yan!

Sa Giant Buddha. First time ko dito, actually.
Sa Giant Buddha. First time ko dito, actually.

Look, I don’t really want to blog about HK because there’s really nothing about it that hasn’t been written yet, so I’ve decided to do two things: (1) create a gallery photo blog, and (2) write a short editorial-like post on my realizations from this trip. When the second one will be finished, I do not know.

Click here for the Hong Kong mega photo blog.

Happy new year, bitches!


The feeling travel blogger blog post of 2015

Travel blogger ka ba? Sure.

How I wish I could make fun of travel bloggers but there are those who are really hardcore about it. And when you see their posts, it’s like, “Jesus, umuwi ka naman minsan!” Career talaga.

Any horse, I just want to post another update and the least I can think of is a travel compilation. Mind you, though, this is going to get a little boring at times. I just finished compiling the list of places we did this year and sadly, I may have to include Star City just to fill the page. Panalo.

Starting the year at Richmonde Hotel

2014-New Year’s Day

We are a hotel-staycation type of family. And because we’re so over firecrackers and fireworks (as in overly scared), we just see to it that we’re somewhere high enough to have a panoramic view of all the putukan action. We were lucky enough to get a corner room on the fronting-Megamall side, so we got to see the Chinese-Greenhills fireworks competition of whose-business-did-best-this-year.

Richmonde Hotel is quite old. You can easily tell by the condition of the carpets and upholstery of sofas and chairs. But overall, I guess it’s doing quite well for its age. Besides, four words more than make up for its minor shortcomings: heated indoor fucking pool.

Another good thing about Richmonde is you need not take your car out until checkout. You can walk to Megamall and Shang and buy anything you need or might need; there are also 7-Elevens, Family Marts, Mini Stops left and right.

For two nights on a two-queen room we spent about 10 grand which is really good (considering the dates).

I just realized that I didn't take much photos here. Here's the fambam enjoying the breakfast buffet.
I just realized I didn’t take much photos here. Here’s the fambam enjoying the breakfast buffet.

Star City — oh, yes


So nakakahiya. You know what? Who cares. Prior to this we haven’t actually been to the place—I’m sure I have as a child, but I really can’t remember. Star City is an okay place that you should go to once and get over with.

Two things that stuck with me on this trip: the Ferris wheel and the artificial snow thing (Snow World). However, the artificial snow thing, that is something else. As for the Ferris wheel, there’s nothing really special about it but I think I remember it because of the view—bay area Manila—which no other local Ferris wheel offers.

Yeah, doesn't really show much. Sorry for the poor cam-phone pics.
Yeah, doesn’t really show much. Sorry for the poor cam-phone pics.

Okay, let me tell you something about Snow World. It’s painfully brutally cold. Duh? No, you know nothing (John Snow!?). It should not be considered an attraction. It’s a fucking torture chamber. Yung sipon mo ba naman maging yelo. Saka yung anak ko, mangiyak-ngiyak na. Okay, maybe I exaggerate a little, but still. Look, I like cold—I’m aircon royalty, hello—and I have a high tolerance for it, but this is a different monster. Although sorry ha, I’ve never experienced real snow kasi.

On one of the kiddie rides. I guess I was to stressed to take a photo during the Snow World episode.
On one of the kiddie rides. I guess I was too stressed to take a photo during the Snow World episode.

Buena Vista Park and Country Club, Talisay, Batangas


This is one of those places no one will ever go to unless they’re from the area, or at least know someone who is. Case in point: the place is close to my wife’s family’s place in Batangas called Cale. It is quite a shame, though, because the place is neat and provides a great view of Taal. It’s just not close enough to Taal—or anything else, for that matter—to be a side trip. It reminds me a bit of Punta Fuego, but with much less houses.

We went there to celebrate the 85th birthday of the head lola of my wife’s family.

One of the house/cottages down there's where we stayed. Also, if you look closer you'll see one of the pools.
One of the house-cottages down there’s where we stayed. Also, if you look closer you’ll see one of the pools.
There’s that nice view of Taal.

Paradizoo, help me make a stand


On our baby’s birthday, we wanted to go to Fun Farm at Santa Elena (as per the recommendation of my idol blogger and hot mama crush). They were booked crazy—I guess from all the mileage they got from blogs and stuff—so we had to find something else. Hence, Paradizoo.

Baby with Ate Sonya, who's also celebrating her birthday, by the way.
Baby and Ate Sonya. They share the same birthday, by the way, so this trip is also for her.

Paradizoo is a small zoo-cum-farm in Tagaytay. It’s close to the usual places and is very doable in half a day, so you can do that and visit whichever other Tagaytay attraction your heart desires after. It may be a small farm but do take the guided kalabaw tour anyway and spare yourself the walking exercise.

That’s Danica the kalabaw and this is our view. She will have crapped 2-3 times until the end of the tour—something my baby still finds funny to this day.
The little girl showing she ain’t scared of no butterflies.
Gardens and stuff.
They have statues like so.
And hydroponic thingies.
First time to see a pogi, this camel.
When you see it. (Cow’s got an extra leg, okay?)
Then there’s a pay-to-play playground. A final stop before leaving.
Yeah, that’s too high for you, tum-tum.

I wish I can remember more things about this place but it’s freaking nine months already. Oh, there’s a small entrance fee and you can buy stuff like fresh goat’s milk.

Visiting Boracay as a tatay

Finally, a peaceful Boracay—one where there’s absolutely no pressure to go out at night and party. The only trade-off? The having to carry the baby. Yes, our daughter is at this weird age where she’s heavy but not too heavy to be carried, and walks but is a little too slow. So, being that I was with 4 girls, punctuality is not high on the priority list. Now, imagine rushing from our hotel in station 2 to the boat docks on station 1 just make it to our 10:30 AM island hopping tour. Tanggal-kamay fun.

Mi familia.

I want to mention two things about this Boracay trip: the annoying Astoria Boracay marketing tactic and helmet diving. The other events and/or places, well, they’re non-blogables.

Mis hijas.
That annoying Astoria Boracay marketing tactic

Do you guys know what I’m talking about here? I’m sure many have been harassed by these people. If you’re lucky, you’ll encounter one of their marketing soldiers even before you ride the boat at the Caticlan Jetty Port. By the time you arrive at your hotel—especially if there’s some beachfront walking involved—you would’ve encountered at least 2-3 more of these Astoria people.

What they do to lure people to bite is to provide a free buffet meal. No strings attached, just a free meal. Imagine that. But because people are not necessarily dumb, it’s quite obvious that there’s a catch to it. If and when you accept the invitation—and you will—you up your defenses and promise yourself that you won’t give in to whatever they’re selling. And because you’re already a tad bit annoyed, you’re thinking, “Yeah, I’m gonna teach these people a lesson and waste their time and food.”

So you come to the buffet. A bit fancy; hotel style. Lots of food, the works. You eat with your peeps. For their troubles of filling your stomachs, you agree to listen to a short presentation. Keyword: short. Well, guess what? You just wasted 4 hours of your time. Yup, it’s fucking that long. That’s if you have no plans of buying anyway. Show some interest and it will get longer. If you bought, I’m sure you have wads of cash lying around and I won’t judge you.

Have you guys heard of Club Ultima? Same banana. Free hotel accommodation if you agree to hear out their presentation. What they’re selling are memberships to their exclusive hotel club; you use this membership to gain access and get discounts to hotels around the world which they have tie-ups with. These clubs are usually backed by some mildly successful hotel chain—e.g. Crown Regency for Club Ultima, and Astoria chain for whatever-the-fuck-club-name these Boracay people are part of. Truth be told, it’s probably a good deal. Heck, if people the likes of Manny Pacquiao are members, then thorough financial analyses must’ve happened. Har, har.

Helmet diving — I’m scurred

I’m not chicken when it comes to adventurous things. To tell you the truth, I did not hesitate one bit during the planning stages of this activity (I must’ve even pushed for it). My wife’s usually the one who’s reluctant to try these things and I’m the one who’s, “Sus.”

Those helmets weigh like a ton each. Truth.

Look, it’s not scary. It’s just a bit uncomfortable. Way too uncomfortable. Helmet diving is having a super heavy helmet on you which acts as your personal air bubble under the sea. The idea is that this helmet is so heavy that it stays upright all the time and will not topple over, hence will not be filled with water. Because if it does, you die. Simple as that. Nah, you actually just go down maybe 20, 30 feet tops so there’s plenty of time to swim up to safety.

If you’re ears are sensitive, do not try this ever. The pressure will destroy your eardrums in no time. I exaggerate.

Now, for some reason, I could not keep my helmet perfectly upright. It wanted to lean forwards, which put tremendous pressure on my neck. I couldn’t enjoy the underwater scenic showcase. By the way, the guide divers there will also ask you to take the helmet off for 2-3 seconds for a photo op. If you’re with a sweetheart, they will even ask you to do a helmets-off underwater smooch photo op. Fucking baduy. But, we did it anyway. No wonder my wife enjoyed this activity a little too much.

That’s it. This trip was a bit short—3 full days—but wasn’t bitin by any measure. See, if you stay sober enough to be able to wake up early in the morning, you’ll be able to do lots more.

Boracay extended family. L-R (minus Euna): Virgil, Eloisa, Janine, Chinee
Boracay extended family. L-R (minus Euna): Virgil, Eloisa, Janine, Chinee.

By the way, I have decided to revive my gallery. I have uploaded a major Boracay 2015 album complete with commentary. Check it out. (Please.)


Once again, once I start blogging, I can’t stop blogging. I’m gonna have to cut this here because I don’t want to go past 1,500 words (which no one really has the attention span for anyway). Abangan ang part two.

Enchanted Kingdom 2014: Back after 7 years

Sorry ha, EK lang ang kaya ng “travel blog” ko eh

March 22, 2014 — Having lived my entire life south of Manila, Enchanted Kingdom has always been part of the options for quick getaways—especially if we’re up for something a little more than mall bumming, but a lot less than a semi-impromptu overnight. The place is off-city so it’s definitely a lakad, it provides cheap thrills and group/family bonding scenarios, and you can be yourself without having to worry about anyone you know seeing you. For lack of a better term, you can go all out and be baduy—sling a belt bag balikbayan-style or wear man sandals with socks, for crying out loud. No one will care.

This may have been my 5th time to EK (6th, maybe). All I know is my last time there was in 2007; April 1, 2007, to be exact. My then-girlfriend, now-wife had a friend who had a Brit boyfriend. He had about 2 weeks here and we were tasked to fill the void between out-of-towners, so we mostly did doable-in-a-day, reachable-by-car trips. Hence, Enchanted Kingdom. I also remember this vividly because I was already blogging then, and I documented it photo blog-style. (Of course, I could’ve just said that.)

Continue reading “Enchanted Kingdom 2014: Back after 7 years”

Palawan virgins no more 2: Microtel by Wyndham

We went to Puerto Princesa, Palawan last March 4-8, 2014. With me were The New Mrs. V (wife), Baby Bagyo (baby), Ru-FB (sister 1), and Ninjanine (sister 2). You can read the first part here. That post was also my comeback piece after a three-year hiatus from blogging and needless to say, I enjoyed it a little too much. This is why I’m smacked right in the middle of a possible three-part epic post, detailing every activity we did and every place we went to.

So without further ado, let’s finish this bitch up!

We continue on the 2nd day circa 2pm after our short stint at Robinsons Palawan, about to check in to our 2nd and main hotel.

Read me – UPDATE

This post was supposed to be “Palawan virgins no more – part two”. I originally intended it to cover at least days 2 to 3 of our 5-day vacation. But, lo and behold, I didn’t realize I had so much to say about the hotel. So, it became a semi-review/rant about Microtel.

Microtel by Wyndham Puerto Princesa, Palawan – k lng.

Our relationship with Microtel Palawan did not start on the right foot. Influenced by my wife’s passion to harbor all-encompassing hate, I saw them as mapagsamantala in their marketing. I will not dive into the details of our scuffle with them but I will tell you that it all happened during the booking period. With that said, I will admit that my opinion of this hotel is slightly tainted.

The looks

Let’s start with the architecture and the ambiance of the hotel (naknamputs).

Vantage point: at the very front of the hotel. Beside the signage is their main entrance.
Vantage point is at the very front of the hotel. Beside the signage is their main entrance.
Same vantage point but looking left. This is also the same side our room was located.
Same vantage point but looking left. This is also the side where our room was located.
Same vantage point but looking right.
Same vantage point but looking right.
Looking at the back so this is the front of the hotel. The hotel sits on reclaimed land and one of the staff said that area with the mangroves is still reached by seawater.
Same spot but with my back against the hotel (so this is what’s in front of the hotel). The hotel sits on reclaimed land and according to one of the staff, this area is still reached by seawater (through tunnels or passageways, I’m guessing).
This is what you see standing right in front of the main door.
This is what you see standing right in front of the main door. (Lovin’ the walis, ha.)
Upon entering, you turn left, enter a 2nd door and this is what you see. The front desk is not to your right.
Upon entering, you turn left, enter a 2nd door and this is what you see. The front desk is now to your right.
Baby Bagyo just loves that round sofa thingy.
Baby Bagyo just loves that round sofa thingy.
This is what's in front of the front desk. The New Mrs. V waiting to check in.
This is what’s in front of the front desk. The New Mrs. V waiting for her turn to check in. Ru-FB nakasagap ng Wi-Fi at nag-FB.
That's their front desk. On duty was the less-attractive receptionist who was not named Ice.
That’s their front desk. On duty was the less-attractive receptionist who was not named Ice.
This is the right hallway on the first floor. To the right of the TV is the front desk.
This is the right hallway on the first floor. To the right of the TV is the front desk.
This is the dining area where they serve buffet breakfast (when the restaurant is in use—you'll see this later).
This is the dining area where they serve buffet breakfast (when the restaurant is in use).
The back of the hotel, right side (right if you were facing the front).
The back of the hotel, right side (right if you were facing the facade).
The back, left side featuring one of the lazy hammocks. This is not the immediate beach; this portion is elevated as you'll see later.
The back, left side featuring one of the lazy hammocks. This is not the immediate beach; this portion is elevated as you’ll see later.
The swimming pool.
The swimming pool.
Another view of the swimming pool showing the restaurant and the small kiddie playground (like).
Another view of the swimming pool showing the restaurant and the small kiddie playground (like).
We'll never forget that swimming pool because that's where Baby Bagyo first learned how to swim "all by herself."
We’ll never forget that swimming pool because it’s where Baby Bagyo first learned how to swim “all by herself.”

I guess I have nothing bad to say about the way the hotel looks in general. It’s not spectacular, but it’s definitely way above average.

The location

Look at the 4th photo from the top. That’s the front of the hotel; there’s no visible form of sibilisasyon in sight. The hotel is located in the middle of nowhere and is one of those places you stay put on come nighttime. There was this one time The New Mrs. V ran out of smokes in the middle of the night and no one, not even the staff, advised us to go to the nearest sari-sari.

The “beach”

Looking back, I think we would’ve done okay if we settled for a non-beachfront hotel. Microtel’s beach is one that could use quotation marks. You could literally walk 2 kilometers without any usable, swimmable ocean. During low tide, you get a barren sea of sand the size of 10 football fields.

Like I said, the hotel sits on elevated land. This is their beach during high tide, taken at exactly 12:19 PM.
Like I said, the hotel sits on elevated land. This is their beach during high tide, photo taken at exactly 12:19 PM.
Come low tide, water disappears like there's no tomorrow. This is the same area; photo was taken at 5:20 PM.
Come low tide, the water disappears like there’s no tomorrow. This is the same area; photo was taken at 5:20 PM.
Hotel's at my back and I'm looking straight. See those two trees? The hotel put lights on them. Seriously, may kuntador dun.
Hotel’s at my back and I’m looking straight. See those two trees? The hotel put lights on them. Seriously, may kuntador dun.
Hotel's at my back and I'm looking to the right.
Hotel’s at my back and I’m looking slightly to the right.
Went down the beach, walked straight, looked at the hotel.
Went down the beach, walked straight, looked at the hotel.
Walked a little bit to the left.
Walked a little bit to the left.
Here's a photo that shows the "sea of sand."
Here’s a photo that shows the “sea of sand.”
Just look at the scale of that. See those two dots? Those are Ninjanine and Ru-FB.
Just look at the scale of that. See those two dots? Those are Ninjanine and Ru-FB.
Patches of water everywhere.
Muddy patches everywhere.
Finally reached the end. The open sea—Sulu Sea.
Finally reached the end. The open sea—Sulu Sea.
The journey back to the hotel begins.
The journey back to the hotel begins.
That is freaking far.
That is freaking far.
The only use we had for this beach was our sandcastle-building session. Sayang swimsuit ni Baby Bagyo.
The only use we had for this beach was for our impromptu sandcastle-building session. Sayang lang ang swimsuit ni Baby Bagyo.

The room

For some reason, I forgot to take detailed photos of the room. It was okay, though; I remember it having nice blue floor tiles that were easy to keep clean (yes, those are the things I remember). We got a room with 2 queen-sized beds and they were standard, hotel-issue ones (nice, in other words). It had a beach-view balcony that was really small, probably around 4 by 2 feet. It had a nice flat-screen, possibly a 32-inch one; it had a small ref, a lighted cabinet, and a desk. The bathroom is okay, but I can’t forget my one peeve about it—it didn’t have a removable shower head (the one with a hose), only a permanent overhead one. A removable one is very important especially if you’re trying to bathe a child or hose down sand-filled slippers, shorts, bathing suits, etc.

This is the only photo I have that shows part of the room.
This is the only photo I have that shows part of the room.
Here's a little extra something that happened on our last day there. The hotel was host to a kiteboarding event thingy. This was taken from our room's balcony.
Here’s a little extra something that happened on our last day there. The hotel was host to a kiteboarding event thingy. This was taken from our room’s balcony.

Final thoughts

I expected so much from Microtel, especially because I wanted my preformed opinion of them reversed. Had the hotel been A+ at everything—location, amenities, service, etc.—I would’ve still considered them the right choice, but, sad to say, it didn’t.

Final thoughts – pros

They do have a free shuttle service that will pick you up from the airport, bring you back to it, and bring you to nearby spots such as restaurants. But I feel it was already born out of necessity due to its middle-of-nowhere location. Still, it’s a plus. They have shuttle schedules spread throughout the day that can take you anywhere reasonable.

Final thoughts – cons

Ah, here goes. Although explicitly stated on the terms and conditions, I still hoped they would forgo the extra-person charge. We booked a room for 3 that had two queen-sized beds; there were five of us (1 baby). Upon checking in, boom! We were charged Php 750/night per person, which meant 2 x Php 750, x 3 nights — an extra Php 4,500 added to our total cost. Ouch. Okay, why am I ranting about this even if it was already to be expected? Because hotels of this caliber (price range) should not charge for extra occupants, unless maybe if the guests ask for extra cushions or extra breakfast coupons. This, to me (based on experience), is an unwritten rule in hotel management 101 (but what the heck do I know). For one, how do you think people are able to stage bachelor parties in hotel rooms? They (bachelors) sure as hell aren’t going to pay extra for the strippers’ lodging, am I right?

Here’s another thing that pissed me off in a na natawa nalang kami kind of way. This hotel charges Php 150 for Wi-Fi access to the room. Wi-Fi is free at the lobby, but if you want it in your room…pay up, bitch! Seriously? Uso pa ba yun? Pati sa bus libre ang Wi-Fi, ah. Again, especially for a hotel of this caliber.

I also felt the staff did not go the extra mile. They weren’t rude or anything, and to be honest, they did not not do anything we asked or requested. They were polite, as expected, but I just feel a lack of sincerity behind their smiles. I really don’t know. Again, I was just looking for the extra mile or the rockstar treatment (rrraawwkkstar pa naman ako).

Holy ginataang tulingan, Batman, I didn’t realize I had so much to say about this hotel!

Pak shet. I may have to rethink this Palawan series of posts. I’ll just let this one be only about Microtel. This means I may have a possible 7-part novel in the making. Damn.

Puerto Princesa, Palawan virgins no more – part one

March 4-8, 2014

This trip had been in the offing since early last year and I’m glad it finally materialized. It’s one of those vacations you book just because of piso fares—which makes my wife even more cuckoo—but it was the first time to Palawan for everyone in our group so it was something we really wanted packed full o’ adventure.

Needless to say, we all fell in love with the capital city of the Philippines’ Last Frontier. We may have only visited 60% of what PP has to offer, but we covered all the biggies—PPSRNP, Honda Bay, Ugong Rock, etc. (Okay, Tubbataha Reef is not really kid-friendly so we Douglas McArthur’d it.)

This post is really nothing but a written account of our stay. This is not a guide (even though you might find it useful), this is not a review (although there are some), and this is definitely not a promotion. What this is is a freaking diary entry, and most of all, it’s a warm-up post as I have not written for three fucking years!

The gang

For the sake of storytelling (and to get a little more excitement to this comeback post), let me introduce you to the gang. To respect each one’s privacy, I’ve decided to replace real names with ninja-like code names. Here’s the group:

  1. Boy Banal – yours truly, aka The Official Heartthrob of Parañaque
  2. The New Mrs. V – ang Miss Universe ng Buhay Ko
  3. Baby Bagyo – true love personified
  4. Ru-FB (roo-ep-bi) – as in FB nang FB (sister 1)
  5. Ninjanine – looks-wise, the sister who can give The New Mrs. V a run for her money
L-R: Boy Banal, Ru-FB, Ninjanine, Baby Bagyo, The New Mrs. V

Day 1

From NAIA-3 to PPIA and the tricycle ride

Because Ninjanine booked her ticket separate from ours, she got an earlier flight. We had to accompany her to the airport, though, since it was her first time to fly. Unfortunately, this meant waiting in NAIA-3 for 4 hours. NAIA-3 is our best terminal, right? I’m not going to go all Chuvaness here but the check-in area was hellishly hot. Then, the lower-level boarding gates wreaked of cigarette smoke. The smoking areas are sealed and separated but it did not matter. Had we known, we wouldn’t have waited there until the last minute especially since we had Baby Bagyo, who was then only a week shy of turning three.

Check out my very pawis Baby Bagyo. Hot, baby, right?
Now that I've quit smoking, I hate cigarette smoke with a vengeance. It was really sakit ulo-stinky here.
Now that I’ve quit smoking, I hate cigarette smoke with a vengeance. It was really sakit ulo-stinky here.

There’s really not much to say about Puerto Princesa International Airport. It’s a small airport in a sleepy town but it serves its purpose.

Touchdown and reunited with Ninjanine. You made it, sister!
Touchdown and reunited with Ninjanine. You made it, sister!

We took two tricycles (at the drivers’ insistence) to our first night-hotel and paid Php 100 (Php 50 each) . We would later realize that we got slightly scammed here. We’d comfortably fit in one trike on our succeeding trips, maleta and all. The funny thing, though, was all throughout our stay we were in awe at how honest and trustworthy the Palaweños were. Little did we know, our relationship with them started with a raket. No biggie.

Greenspace Palawan Bed and Breakfast – Like!

We knew we’d arrive post daylight so we got a cheap B&B that was close to the airport for our first night. Greenspace was a top contender after going back and forth through all the online travel aids, and I think it was the professional-looking photo set that got us to finally choose it. Needless to say, it did not disappoint.

Unwind, unwind before going out again for dinner.
Unwind, unwind before going out again for dinner.

Greenspace is located 5 minutes away from the airport—on Dacanay Road—which is perpendicular to their EDSA-equivalent, Rizal Avenue (that is if EDSA were only 2 lanes, didn’t have buses, pollution, and allowed tricycles). What you’d never realize if you’d only look online, however, is that Dacanay Road is a one-lane eskinita. For me, that’s where this B&B gets its appeal. You have everything within a stone’s throw, yet you get the detachment only a semi-inaccessible road can offer.

The place, the main building (house) looks like it’s no more than 3 years standing. Paint looks fresh; furniture, hardware does not look abused. It has a minimalistic cum zen cum modern look to it (whatever that means) which I really dug. They had free Wi-Fi, free breakfast, the works. One of the signages says it’s a pension house but I’m not really sure about that. What I’m sure of, though, is it’s also the owner’s residence.

We spent around Php 1,600 for an overnight stay, officially for 3.

The shower.
The shower and the porcelain throne.
Clean, simple sink area.
Clean, simple sink area.

The succeeding photos of Greenspace were taken the morning after.

This is probably the only thing weird about the room - a balcony on the first floor that's a meter away from the perimeter wall.
This is probably the only thing weird about the room – a balcony on the first floor that’s a meter away from the perimeter wall.
The very bare hallway.
The very bare hallway.
The "lobby."
The “lobby.”
The front desk (as seen from outside).
The front desk (as seen from outside).
The open dining area where they serve breakfast.
The open dining area where they serve breakfast.
The facade of the house.
The facade of the house (I should get paid for this).
This is Dacanay Road. At the very end is Rizal Avenue (walking distance).
This is Dacanay Road. At the very end is Rizal Avenue (walking distance).
Off to our next destination.
Off to our next destination.

But first, we go back to the night of the first day, dinner time.

Balinsasayaw Restaurant – a meal worthy of the first

The plan was to unload at Greenspace and have dinner at a sikat restaurant. However, we were all very tired so we decided to look for a nearby eat. Luckily, the corner of Dacanay and Rizal housed a big, open, native-style restaurant called Balinsasayaw. It has this wordless signage that features a bird.

The bird-only signage. That's Baby Bagyo going crazy over the laser lights.
The bird-only signage. That’s Baby Bagyo going crazy over the laser lights.

We all really enjoyed the food especially the Balinsasayaw Salted Rice. We had a good first meal and we all thought it was a taste of things yet to come. Little did we know it set the bar high and we’d be disappointed more than satisfied on our succeeding meals.

From the inside. Very native, bahay kubo-ish.
From the inside. Very native, very bahay kubo-ish.
Balinsasayaw's new brand ambassador modeling the menu.
Balinsasayaw’s new brand ambassador modeling the menu.

We asked a lot of natives for the best restaurants in PP. Looking back, I’m surprised no one ever mentioned Balinsasayaw. We were unable to go to all the recommendations, of course, but we did go to a lot. Personally, I think Balinsasayaw should be on that list.

We spent around Php 850 here – for 5 including Baby Bagyo.

Day 2

After a night of Red Horse and a simple silog breakfast courtesy of Greenspace, it was time to pack move on to the next hotel. We rode a tricycle to their main mall, Robinsons Place Palawan, where we were to be picked up. There’s no SM in Palawan by the way, I think that’s worth mentioning.

Robinsons Place Palawan

We spent the time waiting for our sundo shopping for minor necessities and in this short period of time, we already saw the whole mall. I like their Robinsons. It’s sized just right, easy to navigate, has all the essentials, and does not look probinsya-ish at all. We’d go back there one more time when we got tired of local tastes and craved for unhealthy fast food.

Robinsons Place Palawan
Robinsons Place Palawan
Wait! Pang-IG ko ito!
Wait! Pang-IG ko ito!
One of the main wings. Dencio's side.
One of the main wings. Dencio’s side.

Halt! I really did not think this through.

I’ve already passed 1,000 words and I’m only on the 2nd day. Since the next part will be a long, photo-filled section about our hotel (Microtel), I’ve decided to cut it short here. Watch out for the next part (maybe 2).